Groundbreaking for math/science building tops FPU board activities

The future of mathematics and science education came to Fresno Pacific University March 2 as ground was broken for AIMS Hall of Mathematics and Science.

A slight hitch starting the scissors life didn't stop school mascot Sunny the Sunbird, the president of university and the director of the foundation that provided the lead gift from taking to the air to celebrate. The two-story, 20,097 square-foot facility will feature laboratories for computers, general science, physics/electronics, chemistry and research as well as classrooms, offices, a library, conference room and safe storage space for chemicals and specimens.

The project is estimated at $9 million, with $6.8 million for construction and the rest for equipment and a maintenance endowment. Construction is set to begin next fall and classes are to open in the fall of 2002.

FPU President Harold Haak called the building an expression of the Fresno Pacific Idea, the institution's philosophy statement, which calls students and faculty to be partners in a search for truth and wholeness. "Let me express, on behalf of the university community, our profound gratitude to those who have made the building possible. Who have added to the idea. Who have forcefully buttressed our courage for growth and development," he said.

Arthur Wiebe, AIMS co-founder and FPU president emeritus, connected the building with the foundation's vision of "a society where the curiosity of early childhood is constantly nourished, where all children continue to develop their early love of mathematics, where all of us seek to understand the wisdom of God as embedded in His creation."

Born from a graduate math/science program launched by Wiebe and graduate faculty Larry Ecklund in 1975, AIMS (Activities Integrating Mathematics and Science) Education Foundation was originally part of the university. In 1986 the foundation became a non-profit corporation and continues to create curriculum and other tools to help teachers interest students in science and mathematics. 

Richard Thiessen, director of AIMS, paid tribute to the 300-400 trainers who crisscross the country spreading foundation's methods and message. "I look forward to the summer of 2002 when perhaps 100 of them will be here for a week and they will be able to see the nearly completed building. I know they will be excited to know the part AIMS has played in making this building possible."

Back in regular session, the board approved naming the facility AIMS Hall of Mathematics and Science. Wiebe suggested the name to illustrate the close connection between the foundation and the university, according to Haak.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations